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Why the Chiefs haven’t signed any of their draft picks

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By this time, we’ve usually seen at least some of the drafted players signed to contracts. So what’s up with that?

NFL Combine - Day 2 Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs acquired the rights to six players: LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Mississippi State linebacker Willie Gay Jr., TCU tackle Lucas Niang, Louisiana Tech cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, Michigan defensive end Mike Danna and Tulane cornerback BoPete Keyes.

But heading into mid-June, not a single one of these players has yet been signed to their NFL contract. Throughout the league, drafted players are typically signed in reverse order.

In 2019, the team had signed all six of their picks by June 3. In 2018, all been signed by June 14. But as of this moment, the Chiefs haven’t even signed their seventh-round pick.

In 2017, the Chiefs didn’t come to terms with their first-round pick (some guy named Patrick Mahomes) until July 20. But that season was also complicated by the firing of general manager John Dorsey in early June.

Is there reason to be concerned?

Probably not.

As Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer noted in his weekly MMQB column on Monday, this appears to be a league-wide phenomenon.

Just 51 of 255 draft picks (20%) and only two first-rounders were signed by June 1. At the same juncture last year, 204 draft picks, including 20 first-rounders were under contract. (My guess is a lot of those young guys wouldn’t mind getting paid.)

Breer’s guess is probably exactly right. But as with just about everything else surrounding the NFL offseason since early March, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is having an effect. Without the ability to bring players into their facilities, each team’s ability to give their physicals to their drafted rookies — a key part of the signing process — is significantly curtailed.

On the other hand, players are under a bit less pressure to be paid. To this point, they’ve been able to begin their transition to becoming NFL players by participating in virtual meetings from wherever they are; many have not yet moved to the cities where they will play, so they haven’t had to move their belongings, find homes, sign leases or pay deposits.

All of that will change — but probably not until after June 26, which marks the end of the virtual offseason program negotiated between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. As we noted on Monday, teams have some work to do to get their facilities and procedures in compliance with the rules the NFL is mandating so that players can return to their facilities.

If the beginning of training camp is indeed moved to mid-July — something the league is reported to be considering — we could see a frenzy of contract signings and other activity in the first two weeks of next month.